Cognitive Clarity and How A Calm Mind Helps with Goal Setting

by Dr. Melissa Carr, Dr. TCM

Feb 12, 2020

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.”— Bill Copeland

Goals are what move us forward in life. They provide the spark to our dreams and the direction for the first steps to every journey. Goal setting is one of the tools to achieving success, happiness, and yes, wellbeing. But for many people, there is one thing that can constantly get in the way—a distracted mind.

When your brain is restless and stressed out, your thinking becomes muddled and you find it harder to concentrate, remember, and come up with the correct…ummmmm...words. In this state of mind, you can easily lose focus and direction, and that can ultimately move you away from your destination.

But you can fix that.

There are a host of effective relaxation techniques and tips you can use to quiet the mind and boost cognitive clarity.

Breathe

When your mind starts racing, a great way to reel in your thoughts and stay in the present moment is to breathe. To do this, slowly inhale through your nose for 4 or 5 seconds, then exhale for the same amount of time. Continue to take deep breaths, concentrating on only moving your stomach. You could also try a 4-7-8 count breath practice, breathing in for a count of 4, holding your breath for a count of 7, and breathing out for a count of 8. There are many other mind-calming breath practices you could learn and try out if you want more.

Meditate

Meditation can offer up a variety of healthy benefits for the mind and body. Taking the time to meditate can help you clear away the distractions that are clouding the real inner you. Meditation can be done almost anywhere, though a quieter place is probably easier, and even as little as 10 minutes daily can provide benefits.

Journal

Keeping a journal can help you zero in on your goals and stay focused. You will have a record of achievements and roadblocks, making it easier to plan for the days ahead. Writing down the next steps of your goal-setting plan in your journal is an effective and fun way to tell your scattered mind, “Hey, I’m working on this.”

Reach out to a friend

Having a supportive circle of friends (or one dependable friend) can really come in handy with goal setting. Sharing or “downloading” with that trusted someone can go a long way to helping you process what you are experiencing and feeling. Friends can offer you an influx of new and helpful ideas, help you handle stress, relax your mind, and motivate you to stay focused.

Take reishi mushrooms

Mikei Red Reishi Fruiting BodyIf you want to improve cognitive clarity, Japanese reishi mushrooms can help. The Chinese herbal materia medica (collected knowledge on the therapeutic properties of substances) places reishi mushrooms—called ling zhi—in the “Calm Spirit” category. These soothing mushrooms are Mother Nature’s answer to relaxing the mind and improving concentration. Health practitioners use them for a wide range of calming reasons, including lowering anxiety and managing stress.

Though reishi can also be included in formulas to address insomnia, don’t worry, they aren’t going to knock you out or make you sleepy. In fact, a more tranquil mind can feel clearer and more alert. After all, chasing thoughts around your head is tiring, is it not?

Not only that, but having a frantic, anxious, or overactive mind can put stress on your body, weakening your immune system, impairing your digestion, and lending you less able to repair damaged tissues.

Having a more peaceful mind helps you gain traction on your health goals.

If you are feeling foggy-headed, forgetful, and unmotivated, a Japanese red reishi mushroom supplement (one a day is easy to remember to take!) can help you get back on track, ready to take on your day and your goals.

Dr. Melissa Carr is a registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine with a B.Sc. in Kinesiology. In practice since 2001, Dr. Carr has a passion for sharing health information. She has been a nutrition instructor and a health consultant, lecturer, and writer for 24 Hours Vancouver newspaper, Fraser Health Authority, UBC, and the David Suzuki Foundation, amongst others. www.activetcm.com

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